GUEST ARTICLE on Milan’s finances from Mikael.

We rarely hear about it. We rarely talk about it. But yet finances are the single most important thing for a football club to able to compete at the highest level. If you do not have the money, you do not have the best players. It is as simple as that. However, the topic of football finance is an uncommon topic. Many people want Milan to buy the best players even though the same people do not how the club’s financial state is.

In the following article I will try to give a brief overview of how Milan’s financial state is. And in my opinion, it is very poor. But there is ground for optimism if the right choices are made.

Milan’s new 2012/2013 home kit
Week 36 in Serie A 2011/2012: Results and Standings

But why are Milan’s finances so poor. Let me start by giving an overview of the accounts since 2006:

NB: Expected result after tax 2011: 67,3 million euro!

As the table indicates, in the past 5 years there has been a total loss of nothing less than 186.1 million Euros. Before I look into the cause of the loss I will start by looking into the revenue of the club.

Every year Deloitte publishes their football money league report where the top 20 clubs in football are listed. The figures listed in the table above are based on the annual reports from AC Milan. The club’s financial year follows the actual year whereas the Deloitte report follows the actual football season year. In order to compare Milan’s revenue to other clubs I have decided to use the Deloitte report.

The report establishes three different categories of revenue: Broadcasting, Match Day and Commercial. I will go through the three categories in the following.

Broadcasting

“Broadcast revenue includes revenue from both domestic and international competitions.”

As the table indicates Milan have a somewhat reasonable income when it comes to broadcasting. In last season, the club’s revenue in this area was 108 million euro. Even though this is the largest revenue contributor it is actually a quite massive drop from previous years. The year before it was actually an impressive 141.1 million. The drop in this area has a simple explanation as Serie A in the summer of 2010 began to have collective broadcast deals. Before, the clubs were able to negotiate their own TV-deals. Milan along with Juventus and Inter were punished for this change as at it means a decrease in TV income. However, if it is taken into a European context the club was in sixth place regarding broadcasting income. This is not bad at all considering the club was beaten at an early stage in the Champions League. Next year this area should be higher as the club went through to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Out of the 108 million 25.8 million was from the Champions League. As long as Italy has the collective agreement the only possible way to increase broadcasting income will be through Champions League improvement.

Commercial

Commercial revenue includes sponsorship and merchandising revenues.

Last season commercial revenue beat all records at the club and in Italy in general. Milan’s revenue was no less than 91.8 million Euro. It was a significant increase compared to the previous year where it was 63.4 million Euro. When it became clear that Milan was about to lose a large amount of its Broadcasting income the club decided to focus on the commercial area instead. The club signed a deal with Infront who changed the sponsor strategy of the club with less sponsors but more lucrative deals. This has resulted in the 91.8 million Euro seen last season. In fact Milan was only beaten by four other clubs which is actually quite impressive. However, there is a long way up to the giants at top where Bayern earn an astonishing 178 million Euro. Even though Milan is at the top of the table in commercial revenue there is still a lot of room for improvement. Especially compared to the shirt sponsor deal with Adidas where Milan gets 13 million Euro a year. This may seem as a huge number but is nothing compared to the 30 million of Real, 25 million of Bayern and 24 million of Chelsea. All clubs who also have Adidas as shirt sponsors. Other clubs such as Barca and United get 30 million from Nike while Liverpool also receives 30 million from Warrior Sports. In this light it is not reasonable that Milan only receive 13 million. When looking at the other shirt deal with Emirates it does not get better as Milan receive 12 million each year from the Airline Company. Even though it is the best in Italy it is not near close to the best in Europe where Barca (30), Bayern (25), United (24), Liverpool (24) and Real (20) receive much more than Milan does. There is really room for improvement in this area. However, as the club does have long term deals with both Adidas and Emirates there will not be any sort of improvement in the near future.

Match Day

“Match day revenue is largely derived from gate receipts (including season tickets and memberships)”.

Milan’s match day revenue is where the club is really suffering compared to the elite of Europe. Match day revenue was only 35.6 million last year and – even though it was an increase of 4.3 million- the club has many challenges in these areas. The main reason why Milan does only earn so little on match days is the fact that the club does not own its own stadium. As everybody knows the city of Milan owns San Siro. On top of this, the stadium is in poor condition and does not have the facilities to host sponsors and VIPs etc. For the same reasons the stadium are mostly half full as fans are not presented to the pleasant facilities a modern stadium must have. Therefore the club must have its own stadium in order to improve the revenue and being competitive with the best clubs in Europe. However, the club sadly has not expressed desires of any plans of a new stadium in the near future. Instead Milan and Inter are currently renovating the San Siro in order to make it eligible for the 2016 Champions League final. It should be said that Barbara Berlusconi has expressed her desire to build a self owned stadium for the club. Juventus have already built a new stadium and they will profit greatly from this in the future.

After looking at the income of the club the following will look into the expenses of the club. The numbers used are from the annual reports published by the club.

Wages

There is one main reason why Milan is in so big financial difficulties and that is the incredibly high wages the club pays to its players. Last year the clubs wage expenses was no less than 192.8 million Euro. This is an incredibly number considering that the revenue is only 235 million. This means that 88% of the Milan’s income is used on wages. In fact, last year Milan was the club which paid the third highest amount to its players and staff only surpassed by Barcelona and Real:

If you take the revenue into consideration it is just poor management that the club pays so much to its players. Clubs like Real and Barca pay more to their players but their revenue is about twice the amount of Milan’s which means that they can afford to pay the wages they do.

According to the Gazzetta Milan’s players are paid 160 million Euro excluding bonuses:

Player NamePositionAgeYearly wages (€)
Zlatan IbrahimovicForward309,000,000
Mathieu FlaminiMidfielder284,500,000
Gennaro GattusoMidfielder344,000,000
Philippe MexesDefender304,000,000
Alexandre PatoForward224,000,000
RobinhoForward284,000,000
Thiago SilvaDefender274,000,000
Mark Van BommelMidfielder353,500,000
Gianluca ZambrottaDefender353,500,000
Massimo AmbrosiniMidfielder343,000,000
Antonio CassanoForward293,000,000
Clarence SeedorfMidfileder363,000,000
Kevin-Prince BoatengMidfielder252,500,000
Alessandro NestaDefender362,500,000
Ignazio AbateDefender252,000,000
Christian AbbiatiGoalkeeper342,000,000
Alberto AquilaniMidfielder272,000,000
Daniele BoneraDefender302,000,000
Urby EmanuelsonMidfielder252,000,000
Taye Taiwo (left in January)Defender271,800,000
Marco AmeliaGoalkeeper301,500,000
Luca AntoniniDefender291,500,000
Antonio NocerinoMidfielder271,500,000
Mario YepesDefender361,000,000
Filippo InzaghiForward38800,000
Stephan El ShaarawyForward19500,000
Flavio RomaGoalkeeper37500,000

This is far too much and means that the club has to slash wages in order to get near a healthy economic shape. Bear in mind that when the Gazzetta is stating Zlatan is earning 9 million Euro it is his net income. It actually costs Milan 18 million Euro to pay Zlatan his 9 million euro annually.

Amortization

Another important expense for the club is player amortization: This is actually where it can be seen what the club spends on transfer. When football clubs buy players the price of a player does not only affect the accounts the year he was bought. Let me give an example: If Milan were to buy Tevez for 20 million euro on a 4 year contract the 20 million would be divided by the length of the contract (4 years). This means that the transfer is affecting the accounts with 5 million a year for 4 years (20 divided by 4). In Milan’s case this post is not as high as the club is not known for spending big on the transfer market. Simply because cannot afford to spend.

Debt

Another concern for Milan is the fact that the club has gigantic dept compared to the revenue the club generates. Last year the dept was 298.8 million Euro. Half of this was bank loans while the other half was other sorts of loans such as factoring etc. This is actually a great problem for the club as it means it cannot afford to borrow the fund necessary to buy the stadium which is so important in order to increase revenue.

With the expected loss of 67 million euro in 2011 it is to be seen whether Berlusconi will cover the loss once again or the club must obtain even more debts.

Financial Fair Play

Many people might ask: Why is it important to understand the club’s finances as Berlusconi have all the money in the world to cover the expenses? Well yes, it is true that Berlusconi always has paid when the club has had losses as it was evident last year where Berlusconi covered a massive loss of 70 million Euro and in 2011 he covered the 67,3 million Euro. However, from this summer on it is no longer possible for Berlusconi to cover these losses as UEFA has introduced its Financial Fair Play which basically means that the club no longer is allowed to receive his money. From this summer on it will no longer be possible for wealthy owner to spend big as the clubs must be able to generate the revenue necessary without help.

There is however a starting phase which allows Berlusconi to cover losses up to a combined 45 million euro over the next three years. But from 2015 the owner must only cover a loss of 30 million euro.

This means that Milan is in danger of being banned from UEFA competitions if they do not comply with the rules.

Some people might say that Berlusconi could just make a massive sponsorship deal with Milan in order to get around the rules. But UEFA has to approve the accounts and if the accounts show that a sponsor deal is above market value it would not be permitted. For instance, Milan’s biggest sponsor is Adidas who pays 13 million euro. If Berlusconi would suddenly give a sponsor deal worth 30 million, UEFA might not allow this as it is well above the market value.

The Future?

As you can imagine Milan faces many challenges in the future as the financial state of the club is very poor compared to the major clubs in Europe. If Milan is to be competitive in Europe the club must be able to increase revenue by building its own stadium as well as getting better sponsorship deals. Furthermore the club has to slash the wages of the players as the club pays to high wages compared to the income. It will be very interesting to see what the club will do in order to meet the demands of FFP in the future. One thing is certain. Milan has a tough climb ahead of them.

61 COMMENTS

  1. berlusconi has just confirmed that allegri will remain milan coach, although i dont approve of this decision im not going to go throw my toys. berlu shud sign players who will suit allegri’s philosophy, a player like wietzel would excel & a new cam. milan can afford 1 very big signing of a cam & pastore remains a fantasy (though he’d be perfect for milan) & kaka is more realistic. we don’t need to sign a lot of players, we just need to release unneeded ones. I hope pato stays injury free.

  2. Milan should set new goals, and rejuvenate the squad

    Only nesta should get new contract, the rest brings to little with the amount of money they get.

    bring primavera players up, and give them lots some playing time.

    take a change and bring in young players in the start 20. players like sahin, witsel and so on are not that expensive.

    I don’t care about silverware in the next 3-5 years, if I see a young squad improve every year, and milan economi getting better.

  3. @peter whats your point exactly.and i can bet you dont knw more than i do when it comes to milan or football/sports.am a milanista by birth and i bleed milan.so pls watch your tongue.

  4. This is a lot more complex than many people here seem to understand!
    1- our commercial rights are the highest in Italy, we shouldn’t be able to compete with prem an laliga teams as they get much higher viewing rates which means more people see the sponsors whichnresults in the deals being worth more as there is wider exposure.
    2- we cannot build another stadium, galliani has already said they need proval from the city of Milan- an the city of Milan is currently making a tidy profit by keeping us there so can’t see that changing. FYI some people seem to think we own the stadium, we used to but now both us and inter are tenants.
    Overall good job to berlu an galliani for keeping our figures very high in relation to our direct competitors – the rest of serie a. Milan cannot compete with european teams commercially until serie a competes commercially with the prem an la liga. If u actually look at it in perspective and don’t take it out of context other than wages our numbers are pretty good.

  5. Juve will eat us… The won Serie A, they have new stadium, young coach, hungry players… Sad but true. They did much much more in last 5 years

    But as always FORZA MILAN!!!

  6. Really remarkable statistic about AC Milan financial status. There’s nothing unusual here. The club needs to invest in order to win. Winning means investing. The club like AC Milan cannot achieve this victory if they didn’t invest money.

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